Volume 12 Week 5

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

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Tim Tierney

 

 

 

   

 

(Updated 4 a.m., Dec. 9)
City braces for OC Transpo strike after union rejects final offer
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

East end commuters may want to start making alternative arrangements to get to work Wednesday morning after talks between OC Transpo and the Amalgamated Transit Union broke off on Monday.

The contract talks came to an abrupt end at around 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon when union negotiators rejected the city's final offer.

ATU Local 279 president Andre Cornellier says the offer did not adequately address the union's concerns over pay, sick leave, outsourcing, operator booking and scheduling, but the number one issue is salaries.

The union is looking for something in the vacinity of three per cent, which has been negotiated in other jurisdictions. It is not known how much the city has offered, but during budget deliberations on Friday, staff adjusted their figures for compensation to reflect a two per cent pay increase across the board.

Unless talks resume tomorrow, OC Transpo's 2,300 operators, mechanics and dispatchers will be in a position to walk off the job at one minute past midnight tomorrow evening.

In his daily blog entry on Saturday, Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien defends the city’s negotiating position while expressing his desire that a strike can be averted.

“I certainly hope that ATU members choose not go out on strike — our offer is very fair in these tough economic times. .. Without these important tools the City loses much of the flexibility we need to manage the system in an economically efficient manner,” says O’Brien.

Should the drivers elect to go on strike, commuters can expect to see a 20 per cent increase in traffic.

To help alleviate the expected increase in traffic, the city is planning to adjust traffic and parking regulations downtown. For instance, the bus lanes along Albert, Rideau and Slater streets will be open to regular traffic as will the bus lanes on the Mackenzie King Bridge and along Woodroffe Avenue.

Drivers will also be able to park all day where one-, two-, and three-hour parking is currently permitted.

Among the suggestions the city is putting forward to cut down on the amount of traffic is for workers to start planning car pools. To that end, park and ride lots will remain open so they can be used as carpooling points for people who want to share a ride.

The city is also suggesting that people bicycle to work, however, with the recent snow fall and plunging temperatures it may not be the most practical option.

Last but not least, the city is encouraging people to talk to their employers about the possibility of working from their homes via the Internet.

Finally, while Para Transpo service will continue as usual, it may take longer due to the increase in traffic congestion.

City's final offer...

Salary Impacts

- 3% retoractive to April 1, 2008, 2% on April 1, 2009, and 2% on April 1, 2010. Pay progression for garage attendants will only apply to future hires.

Productivity Improvement Supplement

One time payment of $2,000 to be paid following retification.

Sick Leave

Increase uncertified sick leave from six to eight days per year. Further, employees would now be able to bank any unused sick leave up to 12 uncertified days per year.

Scheduling

While we are proposing expansion of mixed odd work to weekdays for operators, we are committing to recovery time between all trips. We are also proposing more straight runs (up to 10 hours) as a means to provide more days off for operators. In order to ensure that concerns raised around the issue of run-cutting are heard, we are offering to pay a representative of ATU 279 to work with us on a full-time basis for the next 18 months. Operators will continue to book their daily work and their seniority rights will be respected.

Hours of Service

Limits hours of work to 14 hours per day with a minimum of 8 hours rest daily. All operators to rest one full day per bi-weekly period. This change is consistent with the voluntary proposal described in the summer.

Contracting Out

Continuing to protect the existing rights under the collective agreement, and the introduction of a consultation process that encourages collaboration with the union in contracting out terms.

Benefits and Other Payments

-Increase paramedical benefits to a combined total of $1000/year for an increase to the employee paid premium of $1 per week.

- Semi-private coverage for rehab facilities.

- All employees who qualify for WSIB will get an 85% top up (net salary) based on 80 hours biweekly.

- 2 week waiting period for maternity leave paid at 93%. This previously was not paid.

- Increase in bereavement leave from 4 to 5 days for immediate family.

- Addition of 3-in-1 jacket for Operators/Dispatchers/Messengers

- Payment of full tuition fees for apprentices.

- Tool allowance increased from $385 to $400/year and more specialty tools will be provided.

- Boot allowance increased from $120 to $125 for 2010 and $230 for 2011.

- Medical and trade examination reimbursement increased from $90 to $65.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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